The visit coincides with mounting resistance in Sri Lanka to a Bill envisioning laws to govern the China-backed $1.4 billion Colombo Port City
China’s Minister of Defence Wei Fenghe on Wednesday said he had “extremely fruitful” bilateral discussions with Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, according to a statement issued by the Presidential Media Division.
“He [Chinese Defence Minister] also said the relations between the two nations were further strengthened by this visit,” the statement said, following the official meeting between General Wei, who is on a two-day visit to Sri Lanka, and President Rajapaksa, in Colombo. The General’s visit comes six months after top Chinese foreign policy official Yang Jiechi was in Colombo in October 2020 for high-level discussions.
The statement did not mention further details of the conversation between President Rajapaksa, a former secretary to Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence, and the senior Chinese official. The visit coincides with mounting resistance in Sri Lanka to a Bill envisioning laws to govern the China-backed $1.4 billion Colombo Port City. The Supreme Court recently heard a case on the matter, following some 20 petitions by opposition parties and civil society organisations that challenged the Bill arguing that it “threatened” Sri Lanka’s sovereignty. The top court is expected to rule on the case soon.
The visiting Chinese official is also scheduled to meet Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Beijing has extended over $2 billion – in loans and a currency swap facility – to Colombo after the pandemic struck, to help the government cope with its economic strain. Prior to that Colombo owed Beijing over $5 billion in loan repayment.